Red-hot Brewers roll into Colorado up 2-0
DENVER — Christian Yelich feels like he’s not really locked in — no more than usual, anyway.
“Just taking it day by day,” the Milwaukee outfielder said.
He and the Brewers are certainly dialed in, though. They have won 10 straight and seized a 2-0 lead against Colorado in the NL Division Series heading into Game 3 on Sunday in what could be a cool and damp afternoon in Denver.
The Rockies hope a return to Coors Field can ignite their frigid bats. The team hit .154 over the opening two games and went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
A rest day couldn’t have come at a better time after a week that included travel to Los Angeles and Chicago, on to Milwaukee and then back home.
“Clear the mind a little bit,” Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado said Saturday. “I’m ready to go. We’ll be ready to go. It’s no problem.”
Colorado’s scuffle at the plate isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The Rockies hit .287 at Coors Field this season, one of their lowest averages in franchise history. Their .256 overall mark remains a team low.
“No doubt there needs to be adjustments made,” Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said. “But it’s a good feeling to be back home, where we feel really comfortable hitting.”
Story is 0 for 8 with five strikeouts in the series. He resembles the Story of last season, when he struck out 191 times, rather than this All-Star version that hit .291 with 37 homers.
His swing in the eighth inning Friday epitomized the Rockies difficulty in timing Brewers pitchers, striking out on a breaking pitch from Jeremy Jeffress that hit the dirt way before the plate.
“Story’s a good player. He understands,” Arenado said. “He clears his mind pretty quickly.”
Game 3 features a matchup of contrasting pitchers. Milwaukee’s Wade Miley gets by more with sneakiness than speed. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 4.76 ERA in five career games at Coors Field.
Colorado will hand the ball to German Marquez, a right-hander who throws heat and had a team-record 230 strikeouts. He got the call over lefty Kyle Freeland, another one of Colorado’s up-and-coming young arms who also happens to be a Denver native and would pitch Monday — if there is a Monday.
“They have a potent lineup, but I’m going to execute my plan, which is executing my pitches, hitting my target, and give our team a chance to win games,” Marquez said.
Asked whether he would like to close the series out as quickly as possible, Brewers manager Craig Counsell just smiled.
“Would we prefer to win it in three games? Of course,” Counsell said. “But they have something to say about that.”
Counsell appreciates that anyone can step into the spotlight at any moment. Like in Game 2 when it was the turn of 38-year-old catcher Erik Kratz, who had two RBIs.
“If you’re in the lineup, you get four shots. Everybody is going to get four shots,” Counsell said. “So last night, Erik was the one that cashed in on a really big opportunity.
“Sometimes you’ve got to let these games unfold, and that’s how you know how to play them, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
One factor: The weather. It’s supposed to be around 60 on Sunday with a chance of rain.
“It’s not ideal. It wouldn’t be anybody’s first choice,” said Yelich, an NL MVP candidate who is 2 for 5 in the series with a homer and four walks. “They have to pitch in it, they have to hit in it. We have to pitch in it, we have to hit in it. You have to find a way to win.”
Being back at home, the Rockies are trying to keep everything as normal as ever. Especially Arenado, who’s sticking to his usual routine: Eggs and bacon in the morning with oatmeal and two cups of coffee, head to the park and go straight to the cage to hone his swing.
“We’ve won three games in a row before,” said Arenado, whose team captured six of seven in their final homestand to force a tiebreaking game 163 in Los Angeles for an NL West title the Dodgers wound up winning. “But it’s not an easy task with the Brewers.”
The energized crowd should help. It’s the first home game for the Rockies since 2009.
“Everywhere we’ve played, it’s been super loud, and everybody hates us,” Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon said. “So now it’ll be super loud and everybody loves us. I hope.”
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